With two bills passed through the Senate and one expected to come up for a vote on the final day, Cherokee representatives have declared a successful session so far. Legislators are expected to work late into the night as they fight to get their bills passed before midnight.
Amended versions of two major bills co-authored by Cherokee representatives passed the House and made it through the Senate late Tuesday night, including a bill that prohibits the state from participating in some aspects of the Affordable Care Act.
State Reps. Michael Caldwell (R-Woodstock) and Scot Turner (R-Holly Springs) were two of the co-authors on the bill that began as House Bill 707, or the Health Care Freedom and ACA Non-Compliance Act.
Turner said he was pleased the bill passed both the legislative bodies, and that it “is on to the governor’s desk for a signature.”
“The original bill was HB 707, but it got amended into HB 943,” Turner explained. “That was a signature piece of legislation for my efforts this year, as well as Rep. Caldwell.”
The bill seeks to bar state agencies from helping impose the Affordable Care Act.
Caldwell said “it’s been a really successful session,” and he was glad the House and Senate worked together to “get things moving.”
Caldwell said he was pleased the two main bills he was “rooting for this session” were making good progress, the anti-Obamacare bill and the Safe Carry Protection Act, a sweeping piece of legislation that changes where guns can be carried. Rep. Mandi Ballinger (R-Canton) was a co-sponsor on the Safe Carry Protection Act.
“I’m pretty excited to see the Senate moving on them,” Caldwell said. “HB 707 was certainly the one I was rallying around throughout the session, so I’m especially excited to see that pass.”
Turner said the Senate agreed on certain provisions of the original House bill, and combined it with HB 943, the Cancer Treatment Fairness Act.
“There was certainly a good movement to establish that Georgia is not going to participate in certain aspects of the ACA using state resources,” he said of the bill that passed the Senate. “It basically would prevent any political subdivision of this state from establishing a health care exchange, and it codifies that Georgia will not establish an exchange. And it prevents state resources from being used to advocate for the expansion of Medicaid.”
The Safe Carry Protection Act passed the House, then the Senate on Tuesday night, and will return to the House for approval after being amended and combined with HB 60, Turner said.
“The gun bill is now HB 60; it got amended,” he said. “We will be considering that in the House (Thursday).”
If the House agrees with the Senate’s modifications, the bill would go on to Gov. Nathan Deal for a signature.
Caldwell said “it’s likely” the gun bill will be approved by the House and head to the governor’s office.
A bill being pushed by several parents in Cherokee, House Bill 885, which sought to allow a certain form of medical marijuana, now “rests in the Senate,” Turner said.
The bill passed the House and went on to the Senate, but was tabled Wednesday. However, Caldwell said it’s likely the bill will come up for vote before the Senate today.
“I’m certainly hopeful to see the marijuana bill tomorrow,” Caldwell said.
The Legislature meets 40 days each year for a session, and any bill that doesn’t get passed by midnight on the final day is considered “dead” until the next session.